Back to Back Issues Page
Happy Thanksgiving
November 21, 2011

The off and on stretch of 50 plus degree days have blessed us with a few late season blooms.

Calendula and Sweet alyssum are quite hardy for perennials and will give color if the weather isn't too severe.

Karen's viola and flower from the Strawberry lipstick (Fragraria 'Lipstick') were bonus flowers, as they peaked through the leaves.

Thanks to some 'Gardening for Wildlife' subscribers and plant experts,
I am attempting to winter over my Tropical Hibiscus and Mandevilla.

In the mean time, I keep bringing them in and out as the weather allows, and the plants continue to bless us with tropical colors as well.

The weather continues to transition from fall to winter, as we have 50 degrees one day and cold and snow flurries the next day.

Fall migration continues.

I go for a walk just about every evening.

I'm out there for almost an hour, so I hear and see a few things from time to time.

This past week blessed me with flock, after flock, after flock of Snow geese.

80 to 100 at a time, making up an almost perfect 'V'.

Needless to say, I stop and look up.

As the lakes and waterways of northern Canada begin to freeze, the Geese finally get the urge to migrate.

Many will fly non stop from northern Canada to their wintering grounds scattered throughout the United States.

If you don't see them, you will often hear them.

Snow geese have a slightly higher pitch than Canada geese and in my opinion, a less raspy sound.

On a clear night, the white of the geese is quite vivid.

This past Friday, Karen and I visited the town of Lowell, MI. for their Christmas open house.

Lowell is a town of just over 4,000 about 20 miles from where we live.

We dropped Yolanda off at Hope Network (a facility for special needs people), as I do Monday through Friday 10AM-4PM.

Right from there we headed to Lowell.

I'm not much of a shopper, this was more for Karen and me doing something
with my wife.

I must say, I (we) had a wonderful day.

I will attempt to hit more little towns in the future (they do it up right).

This week marks the beginning of the Holiday Season.

Our Canadian friends celebrated Canada's Thanksgiving last month, but keep in mind............

Many Canadians live in the United States or have family here and get a bonus Holiday.

Some U.S. citizens live in Canada.

Still others may have dual citizenship and double the fun.

You get the idea.

With the feasting and celebrations, "Thanksgiving" is just that...........

I special time set aside to "Give Thanks" to our Creator for all of his blessings and bounty.

Even if you don't think so, there is always someone in need or worse off.

Do give thanks my friends.

If you are preparing a meal (any meal), keep your wildlife friends in mind too.

Pumpkin and squash seeds can be offered to the birds and squirrels.

Apple and potato peels can be put out to feed the rabbits and deer.

If you are feeling creative, you may offer up a nut cup or some other creation to your birds.

Give thanks for your Natural friends while your at it.

Every year I seem to have a Thanksgiving themed newsletter.

It may be about wild turkeys or a history lesson or two based on the first Thanksgiving 390 years ago.

Don't panic :-)

I'm still doing a bit on Thanksgiving, but I chose to do a letter with a lighter side to it (if that is possible while packing down the food).

Yes, it is lengthy, and informative and maybe it offers up an item or two you
can use as trivia while at the family table.

Take your time reading this marathon session (maybe between errands and cooking).

There are a few tidbits about turkeys and a few fast facts on many of the items grown that we consume for out Thanksgiving meals (this goes for our Canadian friends as well).

(It is truly amazing what research can find.)

Remember, these are total numbers for the year, not just for Thanksgiving.

I hope you enjoy reading as I enjoyed the writing.

Fun Features and Fast Food Facts.


The centerpiece of contemporary Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada is a large meal, generally centered around a large roasted turkey.

Surveys show 88% of us will partake in a Turkey over the holidays

The majority of the dishes in the traditional American version of Thanksgiving dinner are made from foods native to the New World.

According to tradition, the Pilgrims received these foods from the Native Americans.

According to what traditionally is known as "The First Thanksgiving," the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony contained turkey, waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash.

William Bradford noted that, "besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many."

Many of the foods that were included in that feast (except, notably, the seafood) have since gone on to become staples of the modern Thanksgiving dinner.

Sara Hale, a magazine editor, wrote editorials pushing for a day of Thanksgiving.

Finally after 40 years of writing editorials and letters to politicians, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.

The use of the turkey in the USA for Thanksgiving precedes Lincoln's nationalization of the holiday in 1863.

Alexander Hamilton proclaimed that no "Citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day,"

Many of the Founding Fathers (particularly Benjamin Franklin) had high regard for the wild turkey as an American icon, but turkey was uncommon as Thanksgiving fare until around 1800.

By 1857, turkey had become part of the traditional dinner in New England.

Because turkey is the most common main dish of a Thanksgiving dinner, Thanksgiving is sometimes colloquially called “turkey day.”

I compiled a list of 'Fun Facts and Tidbits' for you to read in between your busy times this week

Some statistics are a year or two old, but you will get the idea.

Fun Food Facts:

Over the course of a year, American turkey growers raise between 270 million to 300 million turkeys, to be processed into billions of pounds of turkey meat valued around $8 billion.

One third of all turkey consumption occurs in the Thanksgiving-Christmas season, and a per capita consumption of almost 18 pounds per year.

7.1 billion pounds and were valued at $3.6 billion.

47 Million:

The preliminary estimate of turkeys make Minnesota number one at 47,000,000 turkeys annually.

Followed by North Carolina (31.0 million), Arkansas (28.0 million), Missouri (17.5 million), Indiana (16.0 million), and Virginia (15.5 million).

These six states together account for about two-thirds of U.S. turkeys produced in 2010.

The province of Ontario, Canada grows close to 50% of all domestic Canadian turkeys.

735 million pounds:

Wisconsin is expected to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 435 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (195 million).

New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington are also expected to have substantial production, ranging from 14 million to 53 million pounds.

1.9 billion pounds:

The total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2009.

North Carolina (940 million pounds) produced more sweet potatoes than any other state.

It was followed by California (592 million pounds) and Louisiana (162 million pounds).

931 million pounds:

Total production of pumpkins produced in the major pumpkin-producing states in 2009.

Illinois led the country by producing 429 million pounds of the vined orange gourd.

Pumpkin patches in California and Ohio also provided lots of pumpkins.

Each state produced at least 100 million pounds.

The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $103 million.

If you prefer cherry pie, you will be pleased to learn that the nation's tart cherry production totals more than 195 million pounds.

Of total, the overwhelming majority (140 million) are produced in Michigan.

2.2 billion bushels:

The total volume of wheat — the essential ingredient of bread, rolls, and pie crust — produced in the United States in 2010.

North Dakota and Kansas accounted for 33 percent of the nation's wheat production.

736,680 tons:

The production of snap (green) beans in major snap (green) bean-producing states.

Of this total, Wisconsin led all states (326,900 tons).

Many Americans consider green bean casserole a traditional Thanksgiving dish.

25,000,000 tons:

Potatoes in the United States are grown in nearly every state, although about half of the crop comes from Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Minnesota, California and Michigan.

The United States of America is the fourth largest potato producer in the world , at about 25 million tons a year.

Canada is 13th worldwide.

Who is number one?

China, followed by Russia and India.

$7.3 million :

The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys — 99.1 percent from Canada.

When it comes to sweet potatoes, the Dominican Republic was the source of 62.1 percent ($3.4 million) of total imports ($5.5 million).

The United States ran a $3.9 million trade deficit in live turkeys during the period but had a surplus of $31.5 million in sweet potatoes.

How About a Few "Did You Knows":

Peacock or Turkey:

Biologists know of two kinds of wild turkey.

One is called the ocellated turkey, which is native to Yucatan and Guatemala.

It is a brilliantly colored bird with eyelet spots on its tail similar to that of a peacock.

The other is the wild turkey common to Mexico and the United States.

At one time this wild turkey migrated as far north as Maine and southern Ontario, Canada.

All other turkeys derive from these two families.

Without turkeys, Big Bird would be naked.

Big Bird, of Sesame Street fame, is actually dressed in turkey feathers.

Although he is not a turkey, his costume is made of nearly 4,000 white turkey feathers, which have been dyed bright yellow.

(Adult turkeys have as many as 6,000 feathers.)

Too Big to Breed:

The most prized portion of the turkey is the white meat of the breast.

Because we like white meat so much, turkeys are bred to produce large breasts.

Our domesticated turkeys have such large chests that the male, (tom turkey) is not able to fertilize the eggs of the female,(hen turkeys)in the natural mating position.

Today, turkey eggs are fertilized by artificial insemination for the hatchery.

The birds are too heavy for flight as well.

Turkey Eggs:

Although wild turkeys like to rest in trees at night, they build crude nests of dry leaves on the ground.

Turkey eggs are almost twice as large as ordinary chicken eggs.

They have a pale creamy-tan color, with dark brown speckles.

The huge yolk is golden-orange in color.

Fertile turkey eggs take 28 days to hatch.

What's a Wattle Anyway?

The head and neck of turkeys have no feathers; rather it is covered with red, fleshy skin.

A soft floppy growth on the front of the head, which dangles downward over the beak, is called the snood or dew-bill.

The turkey also has a pouch like area at the front of his throat which is called a wattle.

The head, neck, snood and wattle are all reddish colored until the male turkey begins to do his "strut" or mating dance at which time the entire area turns brilliantly bright red.

Gobble, Gobble:

Only the adult male turkey makes the gobbler, gobble sound.

The adult male is called the "tom" turkey.

The female or hen turkey never gobbles, it makes a gentle clucking or clicking sound.

Feathers were all the rage:

In the 1800s, they were used mainly to accent hats.

Whole stuffed birds also sometimes were used in fashion.

Feathers represented the upper class of the Victorian Era.

If you were wearing something with feathers, it meant you had money.

Swan, Ostrich and Turkey feathers were the main stay.

A few savvy business men kept turkeys just for the purpose of decorating women's hats, otherwise, turkeys may have gone the way of the 'Passenger pigeon'.

The North American Wild Turkey:

Can be found in every contiguous state of the U.S., as well as in southern-most sections of most of the Canadian Provinces.

This interesting North American Native was abundant, in the 1600’s when settlers were arriving in the Eastern parts of Canada and New York, settling and attempting to tame the wilderness of an unsettled land .

Although these wild birds were prolific and abundant in the early pioneer days of North America, the intensive clearing and settling of woodlands during the 1800’s and unregulated hunting resulted in a decline and eradication of these beautiful birds in the United States altogether.

The last sighting of a Wild Turkey in that century, was in 1844 in the southwestern portion of New York State.

And for over one hundred years after that time, these birds were elusive and their numbers considered to be very low in all of the Eastern seaboard states where they had once been in such abundance.

By 1957, US conservationists began relocating breeding stock of Wild Turkeys into most states capable of sustaining and proliferating a Wild Turkey populous.

The result of this program was an extremely successful story in the field of wildlife conservation.

The current estimation for wild turkey populations in the U.S. and Canada is now over 7,000,000.

There is still a long way to go to establish a solid turkey population.

One Last Tidbit:

For their first meal on the moon, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin ate roast turkey in foil packets.

I hope you enjoyed these Fun Facts and Tidbits.

And you thought this was going to be a typical 'Turkey Week' letter.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

A God Filled and wonderful Thanksgiving week to you.

Now here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"When you arise in the morning give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength.

Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living.

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself.

Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief 1768-1813

From the Good Book.......

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."

Psalms 107:1

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

Psalm 145:7

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

Back to Back Issues Page